Love in the Sand
By Rick Kurtis
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Our last vacation started out to be the worst anniversary to our humdrum marriage, but turned out to be the best, and here’s why. Our lives were destined to be as one, but we were born thousands of miles apart, and made bad decisions that kept us at a distance even after we met. Our lives had been wasted for twenty years, but finally, we became as one. Many struggles continued to plague our lives, but we now had each other, and together we worked through them.
We were married on September 22, 1998, and we fell more in love with each passing day. I can always bring her to tears by playing our wedding song, From This Moment On, by Shania Twain.
Our lives weren’t really drifting apart. It’s just that when I lost my job, my wife worked two jobs in order to help our situation. I finally pulled out of my funk, and her sister helped me to secure a regular eight hour job. The only problem was it turned out to be an afternoon shift, from Wednesday through Sunday. So, with my wife working days and me nights, we had very little quality time, together. We caught up with the bills by keeping busy, and conserving, but yet my new job dealt with people. Before, when I was self-employed, I worked outdoors by myself interacting with no one. My wife, being very insecure, grew worried. Her suspicions escalated, and we became more distant through time.
With this distance, I decided to set some money aside to surprise her with a gift of love. I had everything planned, from plane fare, hotel, and car rental. Right down to what we would sightsee. Mostly we were to get away, to rekindle that old flame, and relax on the beach in Maui, Hawaii.
When she realized our finances fell short, she became angry, hurt, and confused, and accuse me of having an affair, spending money on someone else, or that I was saving up in order to leave her. I rushed home to explain my plan. Now she became angry that I spent so much, and because she had a lot of work to do before she could actually leave. For hours we cried, and worked out a plan to completely get away. The trip was locked in and nonrefundable, so all in all, everything turned out fine. She doubled up on her workload and completed everything. She felt a great relief, and became as excited as I.
The trip from day one started off with a bang. I set the alarm, but didn’t notice the a.m., or p.m., so we woke up late and rushed off to the airport. From the moment we picked up our tickets, things turned from excitement to disaster. Apparently the tickets were cheap because the ticket agent that I went through booked us to go to Louisville, Michigan, and not Hawaii. I mean, how do you get Louisville, Michigan from Maui, Hawaii?
This set into motion a snowball effect rolling downhill. You don’t know my wife. First she took it out on the poor man behind the counter, then the airline itself. After that, she turned her attention to me. Two hours later with security and a supervisor, my wife calmed down and a deal was made. $600 later, and a new flight plan for the next day with a four-hour layover in San Francisco, we would finally be on our way. The extra money cut into my romance plans, but we would still be in Hawaii on our anniversary. My wife had the airline apologizing, and they gave us a room at the local motel for an overnight stay.
The next morning we were the first to arrive, and the last ones to be seated aboard the overcrowded plane. Luckily, I thought, we were at least sitting together, even though the last two seats were in the back, against the commode wall. But it was only a short ride to San Francisco, and after the four-hour layover we boarded our plane that would soon land on Maui.
When we arrived, we still received a Lei by the welcoming committee, but our limo that came the day before was not there. Another costly lose. We finally decided on taking a shared taxi to our hotel, and arrived at night at the Hotel from Hell.
First, our luggage flew to Louisville, and was still lost in transit. But who needs clothes in Hawaii, right? Being that we arrived a day late, the hotel canceled our reservations. They had no other rooms available for that week. With a lot of explaining and going around in circles, pleading, and begging, they set us up across town in their sister hotel.
The car rental also didn’t have a car, so that was canceled. Lucky for us, that was reimbursed, which saved us money, and also, the sister hotel didn’t have any parking facility, anyway. We waited for the late-night shuttle, and finally made it to our room by Sundown. Finally, a bed, eighty degree weather with saltwater, fresh air, and a lot of home-cooked smell mixed with the Hawaiian culture from the lower East side, if you get my drift. It surely wasn’t the best section to be in. The hotel was more of a budget suites, which again, set my wife on edge.
I think we argued louder than the drunk next door until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to get away to think. I swung the door open, and yelled, “I’m going to find a beach, and enjoy my vacation!”
We were both hungry, and being after 8 o’clock, everything was closed. They didn’t have any room service, and no deliveries were made in that area after 9 o’clock. I stopped at the downstairs vending machine, and with a few dollars and a couple of well-placed kicks, and rocking the machine back and forth, I walked away from the hotel, and continued away from the small Hawaiian village.
Meeting a Stranger
I must’ve walked for hours and miles before I reached the beach. I was totally lost, but at that time, I didn’t care. The darkness surrounded me, and the sound of the waves crashed upon the shore, caressing my very soul. The only light came from the full moon rising over the mountain. I felt like swimming out into the ocean until I could swim no longer.
I sat in the sand, and popped open another soda, and a pack of stale cheese crackers. I began to think about my wife being all alone in that motel, but I couldn’t get back even if I wanted to. I felt completely stupid, and totally embarrassed. My wife was right, and I couldn’t even tell her. I placed my head upon my arms resting on my knees, contemplating my life. At that moment, my mind tuned to a noise behind me. I thought I was completely alone on a deserted beach, but apparently, I was wrong about that too.
The hairs of fear crept up on the back of my neck as I heard what I thought to be a cry of a man sobbing faintly behind me. It felt scary, so I cringed, and tried not to move for the longest time, hoping that the stranger would continue on his way, and not notice me sitting on the beach. The crying subsided, but the voice continued. It started out as a murmur and grew louder, as he kneeled down in the sand a few feet away from me.
My curiosity took over in spite of my fear, for his ramblings posed no threat. With my back toward him, I sat in silence just to listen, still hoping that he would go away. He began to speak, clear as a bell.
“Where do I begin? A little sand here, and maybe some more over there. When I was your age, around thirty-five, I thought I had it all. I was young and quite handsome, and at the top in my field. I was recognized as one of the top surgeons in plastic surgery in the state of New York. I didn’t think anything could be better.
You have to understand me, you see, my mother always told me that everything could be improved, you just need to examine and analyze. From a young child, I always looked on ways to improve things, and began to watch people. I guess that is why I became so good at my job, and never married until I met her.
It was late October, after my thirty-fifth birthday. I just finished a grueling four hour reconstruction surgery on a man who blew his face off by an exploding barbecue. Two more operations and he will be as good as new, maybe even better, I said to myself. I walked to my favorite coffee shop for my midmorning coffee. You see, I loved to people watch while enjoying my morning cup, and what better place to do that than on a New York City street. I love to sit there and pick people apart. I was so arrogant. I once thought of handing out business cards, and telling people what I could do to fix their looks.
On that one particular day, a goddess from heaven fell to earth, and walked past me, stopping to window shop at one of the many stores. Her beautiful long blonde hair caught my eye. She stood so close, I could smell her perfume whispering through the air with each passerby.
Another victim, I thought, while I looked at her distorted reflection in the shop window.First the shape. My eyes lingered to her feet, tucked away in printed, strapped, short heeled shoes. Were they boat-like long, or Chinese short? They didn’t bulge from the shoes, nor slip with anorexic bones under wrinkled skin. They fit perfectly, and glided up the ankles to her well-shaped calves. Her bare skin looked silky smooth with a slight tan that glistened in the sunlight. Her dress caressed her full, round, bottom, showing off each perfect cheek. The dress tightened around her slender waist, and continued up with a bare open back. I studied every inch and curve, all the way up to her square shoulders. They were so smooth, so perfect. So far, I couldn’t pick anything about her apart. I didn’t see one flaw.
She began to walk away, and my heart raced. I had to see her face, not just a disordered reflection from the shop’s window, but the real flesh. My curiosity overcame me. It’s a game, I thought, it’s only my own personal game, but I must see. I stood up and began to follow her down the street like a stalker. I couldn’t even pick apart her walk. Her feet landed straight and seemed to glide with every step, and her posture remained elegant with every step. Her arms moved ever so smoothly, enhancing the slight movement of her hips. Again she stopped to window shop. I felt trapped. I had to continue to walk by. She twisted with a slight glance toward her shoe, modeling herself in the window, I stopped, and tried not to stare, but just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to look at her face.
Her eyes noticed, and caught my stare. It felt like an eternity in that split second. I swallowed hard and tried to blink, while I felt the redness fill my face when she smiled. At that moment, I thought I would melt and pour into the gutter. I returned her smile and took a step, and for some reason, my foot didn’t know what to do. It landed sideways and I had to catch myself before falling into the glass window.
She reached out to help, and again we were face-to-face. Her soft and gentle hand grabbed my arm as she asked, “Oh, are you okay?”
My tongue swelled, I could only look into her beautiful green eyes. In that split second I slowly stood. The concern on her face felt so genuine. I managed to utter out one word, “Hi,” I said. I felt like a complete idiot. I should have said, thank you, I’m sorry, whoops, I must’ve slipped, something more than just, hi.
She smiled again with a chuckle in her sweet angelic voice and said, “Hi. You should be more careful when you’re trying to get a glimpse.” She took a step back and posed. “So, what you think? Worth tripping over?”
I felt more embarrassed than ever, but in my arrogance I proudly stood tall and admired her radiance. Her face looked perfect. Not one imperfection could I pick apart. She didn’t even have that Cindy Crawford mole that gives women that stand-out charisma. The only facial flaw I noticed was not a flaw at all, but an enhancement to her beauty. When she smiled she had gelasin, the sweetest, adorable, dimples that melted my heart. I became mesmerized by her beauty, and broke from my deep trance when I heard her say, “Well?” My tongue remain tied, but I had to answer, instead of acting like a pervert. “You, my dear,” I said, “have caught me to the quick. You have taken my breath away. I’m sorry if I offend you by my awkwardness, but your beauty surpasses any earthly boundaries, and I, for the life of me, cannot get enough.”
She pursed her lips and gave me a raised eyebrow look and said, “Wow. That was quite a mouthful. Thank you.”
I knew I had to spend more time with her. I had to find out everything about her. I asked, “May I buy you lunch?” Yes, is all I heard her say, and I held out my arm as a nice gesture of faith. I really didn’t expect her to grab on, but much to my surprise, she stepped close, ran her arm through mine, and pulled in close. A smile emerged on my face that I couldn’t stop as we walked off down the street.
To think me, a man that performed surgery on thousands of women to improve what they needed for their own self-worth, had never come across one such as this. A woman so confident in herself to stand back and show herself, then grab an arm of a total stranger. I felt like dancing, as if we were in a movie. I wanted to sing and whirl her around. My heart raced as we continued down the walk, and I felt nothing but her touch. She reached across my arm and down, intermingling her fingers with mine. Her dress swished as our hands passed by. Her perfume filled my lungs when I opened the door to Mualuna’s Hawaiian Barbecue Cuisine.
It may not have been the ideal place, but it was the first place on the block. The small space was filled to capacity, and the wait-line looked horrendous. This didn’t matter to me, because now, I could talk, and spend more time with her, but being gallant I asked, “Do you want to go someplace else?”
She answered back, “No, this is fine.”
Just then a waitress saw me. She waved from across the room as if she knew me, and came over. “Dr. Rick, it’s me, Amanda,” she said. To my surprise and embarrassment, she gave me a hug. I had no idea who she could be. I gave her a look of confusion and she noticed. “Remember, 34, A to these,” she said, as she stood back showing off her chest. “Table for two, follow me.”
The other people waited and mumbled. She shush them, and waved them down saying, “Just shush and wait. He’s my doctor.” She sat us in a booth next to the sidewalk window, and quickly cleared the table. “I’ll be right back to wipe down the table and to take your order,” she said, and walked away.
Because of my unknown admirer, I was at a loss for words. My guest seemed not to care, and just opened the menu and said, “So, you’re a doctor, Dr. Rick.”
I smiled, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Yes, Dr. Rick Kurtis at your service, and whom do I have the pleasure of dining with today?”
She laughed, and touched my hand. “That’s right. We haven’t even introduced ourselves. My name’s Lawree Brown. I work at Chase Manhattan Bank.” She continued on as if we were old, long lost friends, and I did the same. The food came and went, and we talked and talked all the way out and down to Battery Park. I again apologized for my stare and tried to explain why. She cut me to the quick. I remembered this like yesterday, she said, “It’s quite all right, because I’m a people watcher too. As a matter of fact, I didn’t stop to window shop at all. I was looking at a very distinguished, good-looking man, sitting on a bench. I first saw you at the coffee shop, and couldn’t gather the courage to say hi.”
We both laughed, and exchanged our meaningful thoughts, and continued to talk for the better part of the day. I walked her back to her brownstone where we parted for the day with a plan to pick up our talks tomorrow. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Each and every minute with her grew with more passion and our love swelled, overflowing so much that I had to ask, “Lawree Brown. Will you honor me with your presence for the rest of my life and marry me?”
She screamed with delight and jumped into my arms. We drove out to Long Island to meet her parents, and to get her father’s permission. I had to laugh when he said, “She’s your problem now, and whatever you do, don’t bring her back.” Her father, Jerry Brown, was such a card, and adored his little girl as much as I.
We spent the whole day looking through her life through her family’s eyes. With every passing minute I adored her more.
While her and her mother planned the wedding, I talked her into quitting her job and spending more time with me by working in my office doing billings and appointments. This gave her the freedom to plan for our wedding. The months passed by, and that wonderful day arrived. She planned the whole event, right down to the shrimp cocktail appetizers, and the roast beef with horseradish sauce.
There I stood in the wedding garden waiting for the love of my life. I wore a grey tuxedo with a silk purple shirt. The altar hid under an open gazebo in case of weather, but the day seemed to be blessed, for the twenty-second day of September felt as refreshing as a Midsummer’s Day.
The music played while I stood next to the clergy. I felt as nervous as a schoolboy while waiting for her arrival. The music changed, and I looked up. There she stood at the rear of the garden, under anarbor of fresh cut flowers. The crowd stood and all turned to watch as her father walked her down the aisle. Lawree’s dressed stunned all the guests. It adored her figure with a bright purple chiffon with lace that rested off the shoulders and flowed to the ground with a ruffle of elegance. But that was only half of her ensemble. Perched above her veil rested the biggest brimmed, purple hat that New York had ever seen.
Her stunning beauty awed everyone. Her father stopped, kissed her, and shook my hand. The music stopped, and we held each other’s hands like the first day we met. The ceremony began with everyone’s full attention. With every word she repeated, she gently shook her head as to say no, but her heart screamed yes. Later, she told me it was just her disbelief and nervousness. I do’s were said, and sealed with a kiss.
The reception hall lay right there next to the wedding garden, and everyone had a rip roaring time. We danced to our favorite song, From This Moment on, by Cole Porter. It was a classic for its time, a 1950s song sang as a ballot in the 1953 Broadway Musical, Kiss Me Kate. It seemed to me to be the event of the year. After all the traditional hubbub, we made our exit aboard a horse-drawn carriage ride to the Ritz Hotel for the night. The very next day we boarded a plane and came here to Maui for our honeymoon.”
A New Life
All the while that he talked, he played in the sand. Most people build sand castles by piling up a wet pile, packing it together, then cutting away from the top to the bottom in order to shape their creations. This man had a talent. He worked from the bottom up, adding one wet handful at a time. I became mesmerized. With only the moonlight to see by, I really had no idea what he was sculpting. I wanted to ask. I wanted to add my own two cents to his one-sided conversation, but something held me back. I reposition my butt in the sand while he carried on, piling up another layer of sand. He continued as if I wasn’t even there.
“As a child, I always loved to play in the sand. I would pile the sand high, and cutaway inch by inch, reshaping by using my hands. I guess that’s why I became a plastic surgeon. I was good with my hands and wanted a job that would help people, so what better way to incorporate the two. My skill never went unnoticed, and Lawree loved my creations on the beach. She was the first one to suggest that I sculpt figures from the sand instead of sea creatures and sand castles. I began with mermaids stranded on the beach, and worked my way up to people laying on the sand in romantic poses. People sometimes stopped to watch, or snapped a picture and praised my artistic talent. It really wasn’t much of an effort to pile sand and pull away the outside shell, but never-the-less, people were impressed.
It wasn’t until our third anniversary when I saw her sitting on the sand, reading a book. That’s when I decided to do a sculpture of her. By now I knew the sand shaping like the back of my hand. I mounded up a big pile, packing and padding a general outline. It felt just like surgery without the mask and gloves. As I sculpted away, I could really feel with my hands, every curve, and every line. I had a plastic knife from the hotel and a stick from the beach, and with each stroke, along with a gentle breeze from my lips, I blew life into my creation. Not once did she look up from her book. During this time, a crowd gathered to watch my work as it formed. When I stood back to look at my completed sculpture, all the people applauded and snapped pictures.
Lawree heard the noise and put down her book. She couldn’t believe her eyes on how she looked in the sand. People wanted her to pose next to her sand likeness for a photo, which she did. She felt so blessed and overwhelmed that she cried tears of joy.
That sand sculpture lasted on the beach for three days before the tide reached in and pulled it into the sea. From then on, the earth continued to revolve, and my life revolved around her. That year, Lawree talked me into doing a sand sculpting contest every year on our anniversary, right there on the beach. She worked on it for months, advertising, planning, and organizing. When the day came, artists from around the world arrived to sculpt, showing off their talent. Being that it was our foundation contest, I couldn’t be judged, because I was one of the judges. All proceeds went to St. Jude’s, Children’s Hospital, and a grand prize of $10,000 going to the winner.
Every year, I became better, and had all year to practice, and to plan the perfect pose. For five years my statues glorified this beach, along with so many others, and yet, today, my sadness grows.”
The man broke down in tears, and beat his hands down on the sand. His body slumped and sunk into the sand, as if he was being swallowed up. He looked toward the heavens and moaned in sheer agony. This took me quite by surprise. His scream echoed and broke along with the roar of the shore. He took a deep breath with a sigh, and straightened back up, grabbing more sand to add to his sculpture.
I felt a cold chill run down my back. I tried to move, but my legs were numb from sitting so long. The ocean waves broke upon the shore, and waves rolled up to the edge of the man’s sculpture. Not knowing what to say, or how to help, I reposition myself and sat in silence. The waves returned to normal, while he continued to pile some more sand kissed by the ocean.
I didn’t have a watch, or concept of what time it could be, but it didn’t matter. The chill left as fast as it came, and I remained wide-awake. The sculpture by now stood four feet tall, and his voice returned.
“It was our eighth anniversary. Again we came to the beach to do our annual fun-in-the-sun. That year, a developer blocked off this part of the beach, and Lawree became enraged. The contest continued farther down the beach, while we spent that whole vacation with the land developer, the City Council, and the State Board of Directors. By the end of our trip, we bought that strip of land, and three months later, they started construction on our brand-new home. It’s that house you see all boarded-up, behind you. We packed up everything and left New York, staying at the Hona Luki Hotel until they finished the house.
Lawree became their new supervisor. Every day during construction she woke up early and walked down to the beach to watch. She ended up wearing a hard hat, and telling them what to do. She look so adorable that I sculpted her in the sand, wearing a hard hat, right over there on the beach, facing the house. She came home that night with a big laugh, explaining how the men ribbed her all day. I had to laugh myself, when she told me. By the end of the week, she had enough, and took a two by four to the sand sculpture and destroyed it. It wasn’t long after that when I opened up a small office in town and worked my magic at the local hospital. We both kept quite busy, each doing our own thing. By the time we both returned to the hotel room, we were too exhausted for one another. The weekends were short, and filled with paperwork, newsletters for the next contest, or building new relationships and friendships with the town.
The following eight months flew by in a wink of an eye, and the house was finished one month before our annual event. Everything seemed to be perfect. We retrieved our belongings from the storage yard, and moved in.
We were so much in love once again. She came back to work, helping me in the office, and in our spare time, we’d be right here on the beach. This was our spot. It didn’t matter if it rained every day, or if the beach flooded with the locals and tourists of the season. Every day in Hawaii is the season, and as long as Lawree stood by my side, nothing else mattered. That year, after we moved in, I sculpted twenty-five statues, one every two weeks. Tourists came from miles around to watch. I loved my job, adored my wife, and I loved making beautiful sculptures with my own hands for people to enjoy. My heart swelled with happiness.”
That Damn Hat
The sculpture stood shoulder high, and once again, he stopped. He fell to his knees and wept. By now I had to hear more. I needed to know where he was going with this. I sat in silence too long and spoke up, “Where’s Lawree now?”
He stopped and looked up to the heavens with a pause. He didn’t acknowledge me in any way. He wiped his face and reached down for another handful of sand, stood up, and gently put it into place. While he pushed it around, he began his one-sided conversation again.
“It’s been such a long time since I have sculpted. It’s hard to remember the little tricks that I have learn through-out the years. I will tell you about my past, and maybe you can understand why I am here, and maybe I will remember.
It didn’t matter if we were working in the office together, or here on the beach, playing in the sand and surf, or in the house, listening to the waves lapping upon the shore. Every moment we spent, we spent together. I felt more alive than ever, until our tenth anniversary. That day dropped my whole existence.”
He took a long pause, and reached to fill another bucket with wet sand. He settled back in, still adding one wet handful at a time. He tilted his head, and continued to sculpt and to talk.
“Maybe today will be my last day of torment, and I will be released from my earthly shackles to be once again with my beloved. I remember it like yesterday, September, 22, 1968. A gentle rainstorm kissed the island the day before and made a perfect day for our annual fun-in-the-sun. I perfected my sanding skill so well that on that day I finished my sculpture before noon. Lawree and I walked to town for lunch at our favorite hang-out. She grabbed her hat-of-the-day. That Damn Hat, and off we ventured past the many other artists sculpting away on the beach.
The small town overflowed with tourists that year, and the traffic barely moved. The Halu Weekii Barbeque rested right next to the Hona Luki Hotel. The sidewalks were packed to capacity with tourists, along with street venders trying to exploit them with their Polynesian trinkets.
We waited at the stop light to cross with so many others crowding and pushing. At one point, Lawree slipped off the curb, and I pulled her back before she could be struck by a passing taxi. The light changed, and we made it to the restaurant. The Halu Weekii was our quaint little gathering place. Everyone who worked there knew us and knew that it was our anniversary. They had a table waiting just for us. Because of our charity event bringing in so much tourism, we could have gone to any restaurant in town, and there would have been a table waiting, no matter how packed they were.
Lunch was wonderful, just a fish taco with a roasted pineapple slice on the side. While we enjoyed each-others company, we made plans for our anniversary dinner, after judging the contest. Our wedding song came on the house speaker, and Lawree snuggled in close. We toasted each-other with the last pour from a bottle of wine, and kissed as if we vowed our love all over again, like the day we were married.
It was time to return to the beach. We were both so happy, and a little tipsy from the wine. I helped her up, and we swaggered to the stop-light to cross. We laughed, and felt so wonderful, full of life. The light changed, and we made our way across. Half-way, she realized that she forgot that Damn Hat. I told her to leave it until later, but she insisted, and ran back to the restaurant while I waited on the opposite side of the street.”
Once again he stopped. His scream went unheard, due to the loud crack of thunder that rolled in with the clouds over-head. The moon became blocked by the clouds, and an eeriness fell upon the shore. Even though everything became dark, I could still see the man as he went back to sculpting his sand. His voice quivered as he continued to talk.
“So, there I waited for her to retrieve that Damn Hat. She had such a super smile, filled with happiness when she came out from the restaurant. The stop-light turned, and she started across, waving that Damn Hat in the air. She didn’t see the truck that ran the red-light, and pummeled her down the street. I yelled, the brakes squealed, but it was too late. Everything replays in my mind over and over again in slow motion. Her body flew in a horrible distorted way until she hit the ground and slid to a stop. Her smile turned to an extreme fright of terror as she saw the pavement coming toward her beautiful face. When she landed, her body followed, and rolled her up into a ball, then slowly sprawled out to a stop.
I ran to be by her side as the hat floated down, safe and sound. I cradled her limp body in my arms. Her warm blood ran across the top of my legs mixed with my tears. I prayed, I begged for mercy for her to survive. She came to and gave me one last smile and said, “Ricky, I adore you, I love you with all my heart.” With that said, she closed her eyes and fell limp.
I screamed uncontrollably. My mind and my life was just destroyed, ripped in half. I’m a doctor, but there was nothing that I could do. I felt so helpless, so useless. The ambulance came, and they tried to take her away from me. The police had to pull me away, after the paramedics gave me a sedative.
Twenty-one days passed before I could take her home to her family. On the day of the funeral, the sky fell, weeping with a cold and foggy rain. Hundreds came to say their farewells. I felt no feeling of joy, or sorrow. I remained numb as a rock, knowing that after that day, I would be returning home, alone. It was the first time that we were ever separated since we met. Our house felt more like a prison, filled with her memory, but empty, tormenting me with her lose.
For the next year, I didn’t even remember turning on a light in the house. I went to work and tried my best, but my talent dwindled, leaving people unhappy, and soon after, the office stood as an empty shell. I came home every night and crawled between the sheets in misery, beating my hand against the nightstand until I fell asleep.
By the years end, my office closed, and I became a recluse, secluded from the world. A whole year past, and on the eve of September twenty-second, the day before our anniversary, I lay in my bed, listening to the waves, breaking upon the shore. In the far distance a radio played. To my surprise, the song my lovely angel loved to dance to, came on and caught my attention. I picked up her picture from the nightstand and wept, crying myself to sleep. It was early that morning before the waves could be heard. In the twilight realm, the waves called out to me, and I heard her voice clear as a bell. She stood at the end of the bed, which sat in the sand in our spot. She stretched out and placed her hands on my legs, and slowly pulled the sheet down as she said, “Ricky, I adore you. Sculpt me to your heart’s desire, right here on the beach.”
I woke with a start, thinking her to be standing at the foot of the bed. With the sheet wrapped around my feet, reality set in, but on this day, I felt different. Lawree was calling me, and I wanted to honor her memory. I packed up my radio, bottled water, a small shovel, and my sand sculpting pouch.
I walked to the beach before anyone else could even wake, and I picked our spot. The sand felt perfect as I began to pile it high in the air. I had the perfect vision in my mind for what I wanted to create, and made sure to build it high enough on the beach so it would last.
Working with great passion, I had the bottom half sculpted for the most part before people began to flood the beach. They knew there was no contest that year, and were surprised to see me out from my house. Some walk past, while other took a moment to watch, but not a word was uttered in-fear of conflict.
By four pm, I completed my masterpiece. I sat and stared at my creation until the sun sank into the ocean. She looked so beautiful as ever, and my heart felt overwhelmed with warmth instead of grief, because it was something she asked me to do.
By the next day, the news traveled fast. The sculpture remained intact, untouched by the sea, and people came from far and wide to get a glimpse. By the end of the week, the waves washed her away. I vowed to myself to keep her memory alive, and every week I sculpted a new sand version of Lawree. I went through all our photo albums reliving those moments, and picking out the perfect pose for the season. Soon, the local news media heard all the buzz and came to take pictures, which led to interviews and follow-up stories.
I enjoyed telling people all about her, and how wonderful she was. As the days turned into months, the news lost interest, and the people dwindled. The only one who cared was me. Fifty-two weeks passed by, and fifty-two statues were made. It was on that day, September 22, our anniversary that I couldn’t find another pose, the perfect picture in order to sculpt by. I didn’t leave the house until dusk.
People were already packed up and leaving, while I walked the beach alone, pondering on what to do. I ended up back at our spot and turned on my CD player, playing our song for inspiration, while I at least piled the sand together. Time had run its course, and her beauty was just a fading memory.”
Faith in Love
The dreariness of the night sky had left, and soon the sun would be on the rise. The man worked meticulously on doing such fine detail. I was so involved in his story that I didn’t even notice how big the sculpture had become. I still could only see the back side of the sand pile, but I didn’t want him to stop his story, nor his craft. I continued to wait in silence for him to finish. He gave a gentle flow of air from his lips and continued.
“That day would have been our twelfth anniversary. I looked at the pile of sand while just pushing it around with my hands. I replayed our song once again on the CD, and began to sculpt. I piled more and more sand. I wanted to bring back that most perfect day of days, our wedding day. I wanted to sculpt her in her wedding dress. I knew the sand like the back of my hand, how much I could cut away, how thick I needed it for support. Every curve, every line, must be perfect. I worked on through the night so people could enjoy it by the morning sunrise. My mind began to float. I was losing her. I couldn’t feel her touch anymore. I couldn’t remember her smell, her laugh, her gentleness. Everything seemed to be fading away. The only light I had to work by came from the full moon and the distant light from the house. Being that it was night, the sand couldn’t dry by the light of the sun, so as I carved around the dress, the sand fell away in chunks. I became outraged, and pushed the pile over, and fell face-down in the sand, hysterically overwrought.
I soon rolled over and stared up into the darkness, looking at the stars. I listened to the waves call out my name. Again I tried. I must try again, I said, and with my shovel in hand, I piled a tall base. I packed it with each scoop, and patted down the edges by hand mixing in my tears. Higher and higher it rose until I felt confident that I had enough. Then I waited for the sand to set. The warm South breeze kissed the sand, flaking off the fine particles. I knew it was time. With a small wooden wedge-stick, I began. Our song came back around on the CD, and I paused with my eyes closed to relive that wonderful day. My mind again fumbled. Faded memories rambled as I tried to remember. “Damn my mind. If only I were blind so I could have touched her more, then I could remember every inch of her skin, every curve from her head to her toes. But then I would’ve missed out on her beautiful green eyes, her golden blonde hair, and her radiant smile from across the room. If only we had more time. Why has God punished me, so? All my mother taught me was love and compassion. Where’s the compassion for me that I now can’t even remember her beauty?” I felt my heart ached as if someone had stabbed me. I fell to the ground with a great pain. My breathing strained.
The moment passed, and I regained my composure, sobbing on my knees in front of my pile of sand. I tried again and soon formed a shape, hand packing wet sand over and over again until I felt it to be right. But nothing I sculpted felt right. I beat my fists into the sand, and cursed that damn hat, and God for leaving me alone. My eyes swelled with tears as I wept in the chill from the oceans night breezes. I tried wiping my face only to fill it would sand. Alone I sat, howling into the night.
Then, I felt a warm and gentle touch from a hand placed upon my shoulder. The brittle sand rolled away as a rough scratchy hand brushed the side of my face. More sand fell away as the hand caressed me. At that moment, I felt completely and totally at peace, and just kept my eyes closed, feeling the gentleness from a soft, and warm hand. Then I heard her voice. “Ricky, I adore you. Come dance with me,” she said. My CD player skipped across fifteen songs, and stopped at our wedding song, and began to play. I opened my eyes thinking it to be a dream, and to my surprise, my sand sculpture had come to life. The sand fell away from her face when she smiled and helped me up from the ground. I quickly reached out and held her close and thought, ‘If this is real, I want it to last forever. If this is a dream, I wish it never to end.’ We embraced, and danced while our song played. We kissed passionately while I caressed each and every inch of her, brushing away the loose sand.
Our song came to an end, and with a laugh, she pushed me away. She ran into the surf and stood splashing me and said, “Ricky, come and play. Be by my side.” I ran to the ocean to join her, and she splashed and dashed, laughing while playing her game of cat and mouse. Finally, I caught her as a big wave knocked us to the ground. We floated back on the beach, ending up by my CD player. Dusk was on the horizon as we lay in an embrace for the longest time.
She looked at me with her beautiful green eyes and said, “Ricky, I love you. It is time for me to go.” I don’t know what happened then, but she was gone. I watched as people flooded the beach. They all stood around the sculpted statue, admiring its beauty and taking pictures. No one ever saw me again.
Some speculated that I succumbed to my pain and swam out to sea. Others believed I just vanished, while some theorized that I turned into sand after making the perfect sculpture of my wife. You see, the last sculpture that day portrayed to people embraced in such a way as said to be impossible to be done with sand. For three weeks it stood before the ocean waves reclaimed it back to the sea. On our anniversary by the light of the full moon, ten new duet statues would be left on the beach by morning for people to enjoy. This will be the twelfth and will be my last and final display, for now, my time has been fulfilled.”
The sun crept up from the horizon, and the light appeared on top of the water. What seemed to be a vision approached and touch the man’s shoulder, and a voice came softly across the wind. “Ricky, it is time to come with me.”
The man stood, and they walked hand-in-hand across the top of the water. As the sun rose, their light faded, and I grew heavy with sleep. My eyes bounced while my head nodded. My mind closed off to the sound from the waves, and the music stopped. I remained in a void, completely unaware of my surroundings.
Almost immediately, a sharp siren pierced throughout the air. I woke abruptly and turned to see my wife jumping out from a search and rescue vehicle. Before I could completely stand, she barreled into me with such passion and joy. “Oh, Rickii, I love you, I adore you. I was so, so worried all night long. We have been searching all morning. I am so glad that you are safe and sound.”
I guess, I really didn’t realize, how much my wife, Laurii, really cared until that moment. The paramedics came over and asked, “Are you all right?”
“Yes,” I said, “I just became lost in the dark, and waited here for daylight. I’m fine.”
The paramedics walked away, and Laurii saw the sculpture on the beach. She asked while stepping away to look at the statue, “What is this? Did you do this for me?”
I gave her a puzzled look, because I hadn’t yet seen what the man sculpted. I walked over to her to also look, and to my surprise, it was a dual statue that looked like my wife Laurii and I in a romantic embrace. Tears came from Laurii’s eyes as she wrapped her arms around my neck, and with great passion, we spun around and around with much joy and laughter.
When we came to a stop, we were facing the boarded-up house. A sign hung from the window. (For Sale; Reduced Price) I looked into my wife’s beautiful green eyes and said, “Laurii, how would you like to have this every day, and live right here in that house?”
She looked at the house, then back at me like I had lost my mind. She said, “Do you think we can?”
I held her close. “I know we can, as long as we have each other. I have this overwhelming feeling that this is our second chance. Let’s go find out.”
We walked off the beach, leaving the sand sculpture for the whole world to enjoy. Because of the houses history, it was a swap over with the house we owned. Within three months, we moved in and worked hard together while enjoying our lives. I became a writer, and also began sculpting my own heart on the beach. Laurii did what she does best, along with loving me.
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- Rick Kurtis